An Iconography of Reason and Roses

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Sarah Stengle: An Iconography of Reason and Roses. In: Bridges 2000. Pages 161–168



The author uses mathematical elements from old textbooks and engineering manuals in her artwork. This paper is a semiotic analysis of the mathematical imagery used. Semiotics, or the study of signs, is central to the concerns of twentieth century art. While most bridges between mathematics and art start by using mathematical· principles to determine or augment an image, the author argues that her work uses artistic principles to augment the perception of the mathematics. Both approaches represent legitimate bridges between the disciplines, even if the former is more familiar than the latter. Many of the beautiful images and objects generated by the application of mathematics to art- work are visually compelling, but are conceptually removed from the critical dialogue associated with fine art. The author, who is an artist, believes that while the work does not break new ground mathematically, it does connect the disciplines of mathematics and art by providing an original examination of the semiotics of both disciplines.

Extended Abstract


Used References

[1] Encyclopaedia Britannica, Ninth edition, Vol. XIX, pp. 788-809. 1894.

[2] G. Greenfield and S. Stengle, Magic Squares as Mathematical Palimpsest, First Interdisciplinary Conference, International Society of the Arts, Mathematics and Architecture. N.Friedman and J. Barallo (eds.), The University of Basque Country, pp. 219-226. 1999.

[3] Spence, Woltman & GIMPS, 22976221_1, downloaded in August, 1998 from

http:Uwwwuun eduiresearchlprimesJ1~st hunl, a website maintained by the University of Tennessee at Martin.

[4] Academischen Verein Hutte, Des Ingenieurs Taschenbuch, Verlag von Wilhelm Ernst & Sons, Berlin, 1896.

[5] Pol. Redoute (1759-1860), Redoute Roses Giftwrap, Dover. 1990.

[6] William Shakespeare, Sonnets, edited by H. E. Rollins, Harvard University. Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc. New York, Sonnet 54, pg. 27, 1951.

[7] D. Davis, The Nature and Power of Mathematics, University of Princeton Press. 1993.

[8] J. Tschichold, The Form of the Book, Hartely and Marks, pp. 11, 1991.


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